Lamb Vindaloo

Lamb: It’s Not Just for Easter Anymore

By Mike Stines, Ph.B.

Roast lamb with mint jelly is a classic fancy meal for Easter, but lamb – cooked in a variety of ways – is great anytime of the year. Lamb, hogget and mutton are all sheep, the difference being the age of the animal. “Lamb” is the term for a sheep under one year old (also known as spring lamb); “hogget” (also called yearling lamb) is more than one year old, while “mutton” is two or more years old. Common cuts include sirloin, ribs, shank, rack, chops, shoulder and leg.

Although China produces the most, lamb available in the United States is sourced from New Zealand, Australia and the midwestern states. The lamb raised in the Midwest is pasture-grazed and grain-finished, while Australian and New Zealand lamb is grass fed and grass-finished. This produces a different taste and texture.

Lamb Vindaloo

Lamb Vindaloo
Lamb Vindaloo

Vindaloo, one of many types of curry, originated in the western region of India. It is derived from a Portuguese dish “carne de vinha d’alhos,” pork marinated in wine and garlic. It can be prepared with beef, chicken, lamb or seafood; although not traditional, potatoes sometimes are added. Almost universal on Indian restaurant menus, Vindaloo is one of the hottest curry dishes. Traditionally, it is extremely hot, so adjust the amount of chiles to your tolerance level.


This recipe has three steps: preparing the marinade, making the curry paste, and cooking the curry. The curry paste and marinade may be made one day ahead.

Curry Paste

1/4 cup whole grain mustard

2 to 4 tablespoons crushed red pepper flakes (or four to six dried chiles)

1 1/2 tablespoons ground cumin

1 tablespoon coarse kosher salt

1 tablespoon red wine vinegar

2 teaspoons ground turmeric


1 yellow onion

3 tablespoons coriander seed

4 to 6 dried Kashmiri or Thai (hotter) chiles

Curry Paste for Vindaloo
Curry Paste for Vindaloo
Lam Vindaloo in Skillet
Lamb Cooking in Skillet

1 tablespoon cumin seed

8 cloves garlic (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1 (two-inch) stick cinnamon

1 teaspoon black peppercorns

2 teaspoons fenugreek seeds

1 teaspoon fennel seed

1 (one-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped

1/4 cup white vinegar


2 pounds lamb shoulder, trimmed and cut into two-inch cubes

1/4 cup vegetable oil

2 yellow onions, halved and sliced thinly

8 garlic cloves, minced (about 2 1/2 tablespoons)

1 (13 1/2-ounce) can coconut milk


Prepare the curry paste by combining all of the ingredients in a glass bowl.

Prepare the marinade by grinding the coriander, cumin, cloves, cinnamon, peppercorns, fenugreek and fennel in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle. Process the chiles with the garlic, onion and ginger to form a paste. Place the meat into a container. Pour the marinade over the meat and marinate, refrigerated, for at least three hours or overnight. Remove the lamb from the marinade and drain. Combine the curry paste with the vinegar. Rub the paste onto the meat.

Put oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and fry until it is dark brown but not burnt. Add the garlic and fry for 30 seconds. Add the meat, stir and brown for about five minutes. Pour in the coconut milk. Add more water, if necessary, to just cover the meat. Bring to a boil, cover the pot, reduce to a simmer, and cook for about an hour or until the lamb is tender. Stir occasionally and add more liquid if necessary.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve over hot Basmati rice with mango chutney and Naan bread.

Yield: 2 servings with leftovers
Heat Scale: Very hot